Botox. Long associated with aging housewives and frozen facial expressions (see above), this controversial little toxin is becoming a staple of the beauty regimen for many women. Although maligned in the media, many women (including those you would not expect) are turning to these injections to treat those fine lines that belie years of worry and sun damage. After seeing a Living Social deal for Botox injections, a fellow diva posed the question of using the magic injections in our youth, to prevent those signs of a life well lived.
Hmmm, prophylactic Botox. In theory, it makes perfect sense. Prevent the skin from developing wrinkles in the first place by paralyzing the muscles that cause the strain. Although there is not much hard evidence to support this theory, I did find one case report of twins, where one was regularly injected for 13 years and the other was not. The pictures do show marked differences in the forehead wrinkles and crows feet, making the twins looks years apart.
For some, the safety of injecting a “poison” long-term into your face feels unsafe and suspect. However, this FDA-approved drug has been used in the medical world for over 20 years and in very large doses to treat a myriad of diseases, including migraines, neuromuscular disorders, hyperhidrosis, and urinary retention, to name a few. A large aggregate study looked at adverse effect of botulinum toxin use across many diseases and found that it was a very safe and well-tolerated drug. As published from the FDA, there have been no deaths from the cosmetic use of Botox from 1989 to 2003.
With all the facts in my pocket, I can’t say I have any moral or ethical objection to Botox in your youth. If you have the cash cash money to spend, go ahead and treat yourself, all the while making sure you are going to a reputable and well-trained dermatologist. But all the neurotoxins in the galaxy can’t replace good ‘ol sun protection, hydration, and being smoke-free to staying forever young.
In chatting with my lovely friends over at chaimommas.com, I found out that dry skin is quite the issue for breast-feeding mothers. I’ve never heard of this phenomenon before but I have made it my mission to keep the skin of pregnant and post-pregnant ladies soft, glowing and cuddle-tastic. Of course, with the recent stresses on the body and constant milk production, it’s very important for new moms to stay hydrated on the inside. It’s recommended you take in 3 liters or 13 cups of fluids daily. That’s a lot of trips to the bathroom, but it’s worth it!
Alright, let’s get into staying moist from outside. As I have said before, your skin is a barrier that keeps water in. Stresses on the body and skin disorders like eczema can weaken that barrier, making it more prone to letting water out and becoming dry like a desert riverbed. Add the winter dryness in the mix, and you have the perfect storm for rough skin. So your job is to stay ahead of the game and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, even before you start feeling dry.
I can imagine it can get hard, when you don’t even have time to shower every day with the new babe. So let’s keep it simple. Slather on the Cetaphil, an incredibly gentle and safe, yet effective moisturizer, all over mommy and baby, in the morning, night and after the shower when your skin is still a little wet. For the mamas that want something a little more natural, almond oil is a great moisturizer, as well.
For eczema flares, it is safe to apply your prescribed topical steroids directly on the nipple. Nipple dermatitis is a big problem, especially during the first week of feeding, and usually improves with a better latch. Use warm water compresses for temporary relief. For more tips on skin conditions during breastfeeding, go here, or even better, pay a visit to your handy dandy dermatologist.
Yes, we can… keep your post-pregnancy skin perfectly soft for a baby to nuzzle.
Recently, I was indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, sitting in the steam room in the Korean spa (not with these little munchkins, although it would have made the experience far cuter). I love it for many reasons, including the post-steam clarity and glow of my skin and feeling like I’m back in the womb. However, I realized that I did not know the specific reasons on why steaming is a staple of the facials and touted as being beneficial for the skin.
After a little digging, I found that the moisture in steam opens up your pores and softens up those pesky skin cells that accumulate and lead to acne. Once your pores are open, gentle exfoliation becomes more effective and it becomes easier to clear the junk sitting inside. Additionally, any medication you apply after steaming is absorbed a little better. A study in the journal Dermatology demonstrated that warm air from the sauna (and steam room) increases circulation to the skin, improves skin barrier function and in fact, lowers the amount of sebum of the skin, a big player in the development of unsightly zits. However, if you have rosacea or fungal infections, the warmth and humidity can worsen those conditions.
All in all, looks like steaming does more good than harm. But don’t get too carried away, there’s no need to go out and buy a steaming machine. The steam from your shower or a nice, relaxing moment in the steam room is sufficient enough to open those pores up to effectively cleanse, exfoliate and medicate. If any of y’all are in LA or NYC, try Wi Spa or King Spa for a true K-spa experience. Take a break from WERQ and pamper yoself!
Friends! Introducing Luvocracy, a great new social network where you can recommend/get ideas/buy anything on the internet with one simple click from friends and people you trust. I already set up my account and all the products that I LUV are in one easy spot to see and get for yoself. Click here to get your invite and enjoy!
Before you treat yoself… pop onto Beautypedia, the comprehensive, no B.S. Wikipedia meets Consumer Reports of beauty products. Paula Begoun aka the Cosmetics Cop, provides unbiased, scientifically accurate, consumer savvy ratings on every brand and product under the sun. Not on my watch will my readers be duped into buying $100,000,000 cream made from diamonds, moondust, and lint.
I like smooth arms and I cannot lie. Those other brothers can’t deny.
That’s as far as I will get into any rap career.. but I will wax poetic on getting smooth arms ie getting rid of those pesky bumps on the back of your arms. You call them a nuisance and I call them keratosis pilaris. Plaguing many a patient and friend (including yours truly), I’ve been asked for years on advice on exterminating them.
First, the key is understanding what they are and why you have them. In short, the skin cells in and around the follicles in the back of your arms are genetically programmed to divide at a faster rate than the skin is naturally shed. This results in dead skin cells piling up on each other at the opening of your hair follicle, and sometimes, growing hairs can get trapped underneath. When that happens, there can be some redness and inflammation. Not life-threatening, but definitely a life-nuisance.
What to do?! Everyone’s first instinct is to essentially sand down your skin with rough exfoliants, loofahs, sandpaper… but actually, that can make the situation worse and increase redness and irritation. What really works are things that gently remove the debris from your follicles, like alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acids (Lac-hydrin), or salicylic acids. Gentle cleansing and moisturizing are also key in maintaining the delicate balance of the skin. There are more treatment options available at your local dermatologist. A great product that combines a well balanced moisturizer and a gentle chemical exfoliant is Paula’s Choice RESIST Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA. The pricier KP Duty is probably not worth the money, but an over the counter treatment option nonetheless. Although incurable, there is hope! Forge ahead!
We cannot just sit by quietly as fall and its drop in humidity launches a sneak attack on our skin, causing it to riot and peel off our faces in an atrocious manner. NO! It is not acceptable for us to be walking around with visible flakes of dry skin on our glorious faces, making it rough and ruining our glow. We cannot live this way! Take a stand with me and fight against the ravages of the change of seasons on our skin.
Ok, I admit I am being a tad dramatic (perhaps it’s the Les Mis fever coming on), but in the past week, I have have undertaken quite an extensive crusade against this cursed dryness, using multiple angles of attack.
First on my list, exfoliating the skin that has already decided to jump ship. I turned to my trusty Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant for a gentle, yet effective exfoliant. Pairing that with the muslin cloth from the EVE LOM moisturizing system, and within 2 days, my skin was restored to its baby bottom smoothness.
But getting rid of the mutinied skin cells is not enough. Salvaging and retaining what moisture you can is just as important. I always switch to a little thicker, heftier moisturizer for the fall/winter months, which is better at sealing in H2O in the skin. I adore Kiehl’s Cryste Marine or the thicker version of my summer face lotion, Ultra Facial Cream. However, it’s all personal preference and Cetaphil from the drugstore will do the trick just as well as its high end cousins.
This is not just a problem above the neck. Washing with the oil based Sabon Shower Oil, especially in its bewitching patchouli lavender vanilla scent, is a treat perfect for infusing moisture into dry, ashy arms and legs. No one wants to look like Ashy Larry.
And finally, for hair dry as the dead leaves on the ground, I just picked up Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Condition, an Allure pick for 2012. It’s fantastic for leaving your hair soft as a silk ascot.
Enough with the metaphors and off you go rocking your perfectly smooth, radiant complexion with an oxblood lip, a chunky scarf, and brand new boots on many a crisp fall day.
Fall is upon us yet again. Besides gourds and turning up the collar of my favorite winter coat (R.I.P. MJ), I am psyched to try out these hot fall beauty trends. Simple to try, yet fashion forward, here’s a way to pump up your fall look. Personally, can’t wait to rock the slicked back pony with bold brows and a perfect merlot/oxblood lip. HAWT.
The oft forgotten region, the back of your hands, are the first to go. Most exposed and vulnerable to the destructive power of UV-A rays, it is not thought about until its much too late. And you don’t want to spend your golden years wearing motorcycle gloves covering them up (see Madonna). Nope, not a good look for any occasion.
The brown spots often spotted on the hands of many a granny, also called age spots or solar lentigines in derm-speak, are avoidable. They are the result of excessive sun exposure over a life time, and are accompanied by wrinkling, thinning, and roughening of the skin. The skin produces these unsightly little islands of melanin as a protective measure against excessive UV exposure. The wrinkling comes from UV-A rays and excessive enzyme activity destroying precious, plumping collagen. The end result is spotted, wrinkled, leathery hands that betray your age, despite efforts to preserve your youth above the neck.
Are you as horrified as I am? I hope so because the point is to scare you into remembering to slather that broad spectrum, UV-A, UV-B protective sunscreen you bought after last week’s lesson on sun protection onto the back of your hands. This especially applies to my ladies in sunny California, where y’all are getting a whole lotta inadvertent UV exposure through your car window as you’re cruising. Once the damage is done, it is darn near impossible to undo. There are ways that can help, involving a lot of pain, money, and lasers, but prevention is the sure path to success. I want you divas looking beautiful head to toe for decades to come.
I can’t say that I haven’t been in this position before (see above). Growing up in California, they tell you the sun is your friend. But that was a bold faced lie. The sun is NOT a friend to your beautiful skin and I am here to tell you why and what you can do about it.
You may crave the golden brown baked look for the summer, but the harmful UV-B and UV-A rays emanating from that giant ball of fire that heats our planet is destroying the collagen scaffolding that makes your skin look luscious and plump. Other evil things these rays can do are encourage cell death, mutate DNA to make you more at risk for skin cancer, thin your skin, and cause unsightly damage at too early of an age. And keep in mind, these rays are still around as the weather turns nippy.
Seeing a glowing, youthful Stevie Nicks share her ultimate beauty secret (avoiding the sun) on Oprah was the kick in the pants I needed to take sun protection seriously (yes, I confess Oprah has that power over me. Don’t lie, you do too). I started to live by these rules:
Rule #1: Stay out of the sun. Or if you’re in the sun, use hats, umbrellas, trees, cabanas to shield your skin.
Rule #2: USE SUNSCREEN.
And to follow rule #2, I had to learn how SPF worked and what kind of sunscreen I should look for.
First, SPF (sun protection factor) only measures how well it protects your skin against UV-B rays, which cause sunburn. It is a measure of, when applied correctly, how long your skin will go without burning in direct sunlight compared to when you’re not wearing sunscreen And what does that mean to apply correctly? LAY IT ON THICK AND OFTEN. And dermatologists universally recommend that you choose something with SPF 30 or above, but higher than 50 makes very little difference in the amount of rays you are blocking.
But what about UV-A, you say? UV-A, causing invisible, yet irreversible, damage deep in your skin, leading to wrinkles and skin cancer, is best protected against with sunscreens containing zinc or titanium oxide, avobenzone, or ecamsule.
Phew! After that crash course, how do you pick the one? Well, first off, choose something that is light and sheer enough for you to use everyday. For example, La Roche-Posay Anthelios is an amazing, elegant sunscreen that works well for those with fairer complexions.. but makes girls of color (like me) look like geishas. A better option for us is Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense that mixes effortlessly with any tinted moisturizer or foundation. Protecting your beautiful complexion for posterity is an investment worth making, ensuring you will be werq-ing it for a long, long time.
Treat yo self… to BIG by Lush, $24.95. This all-natural shampoo is the definitive cure for limp, flat hair, making it instantaneously big, luscious, and sexy, just like our favorite country diva. It worked so well, it gave me an extra bounce in my step, as well as in my hair. Mmmmhmmm, werq it.
Hi, Read about your blog on Birchbox. Have you ever heard of and/or used Acure Organics on your face? I dont know if these all natural ingredients really help fight aging. Is putting argon oil on my face really going to plump up my smile lines and crows feet? Or is there something to be said for the more "clinical" stuff a la Peter Thomas Roth or Perricone MD? Please help!!! PS I'm 28 with combination skin if that makes a difference
Hi! None of these ingredients are scientifically proven and their claims are definitely inflated to make the cash money. They may moisturize and reduce the appearance of fine lines, but the best way to fight them is to reduce UV damage by staying out of the sun and using sunscreen. Besides that, retinols are the only scientifically proven compound to reverse signs of aging. Even the “medical” brands are extremely overpriced and the over the counter products also have inflated claims. The best bet is to go to a dermatologist for presciption retinoids, which are more potent and effective.
At your age though, staying out of the sun and using a prescription retinoid should be enough to stave off signs of aging. Stevie Nicks stopped going into the sun after 30 and her skin is still stunningly youthful and smooth!
Hey hey! I love your blog! I just stumbled upon it while reading through the Birchbox blog last night and haven't stopped reading. I'm intrigued by your posts on squalene and would like to try it out, but the links to amazon aren't working. Could you tell me which brand you're using? Thanks. It really is so great to find a blog that offers real, unbiased, sophisticated information on beauty products. Thank you for all that you do! P.s. I love the "treat yo self"- did you get that from Parks&Rec?
Hello there! Thank you so much for the positive feedback! Spread the word :) The brand is Mayumi Squalene oil.. I got the smaller bottle because a little goes a long way. Enjoy!
(As featured on Birchbox’s fabulous blog. !!!. For the rest of the series, go here.)
Now that we’ve gone great lengths to perfect your natural, God-given skin, what now? Put it down. Just put down the MAC compact foundation or Covergirl foundation bottle and back away slowly. Don’t hide your gorgeous, stunning flawless skin, flaunt it!
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve worn foundation in my life, including glamour head shots as a 6 year old (yes, that really happened) and prom night. I hated it each and every time, although I do see the utility in being extra flawless for those special events. However, for everyday, I reach for a one-step, lightweight option just to even out my complexion and moisturize: tinted moisturizer!
Let me just tell you, it was an odyssey trying to find the one that gave me that perfect dewy look: light moisture with just enough tint. Not too little, not too much. I tried the renowned Laura Mercier tint, as well as many others, finding that most were TOO lightweight, without enough coverage and disappearing from the surface of my skin in a matter of hours. But Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturizer fit the bill perfectly. The pigment is just heavy enough that it evens out my complexion without looking done up. Despite being lightweight, it keeps me perfectly moisturized throughout the day. Then, mixing with a sunscreen fluid completely protects me against the elements as I conquer my day.
But what about BB cream? This Asian beauty fad is O.O.C., but just because everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, doesn’t mean you have to. This combination concealer, moisturizer, sunscreen, primer is toted to be the cure for any and all skin coverage problems. In my limited BB experience, the fewer skin tone options and thicker, opaque finish have kept us from being BFF. However, the plus side is that most contain zinc and titanium oxide, the very ingredients that provide the all important UV-A coverage, in addition to SPF. If you’re going to take the BB plunge, choose one with SPF 30 or above and in one swift slather, you are done, girl. Whichever you choose to use, make sure it doesn’t hide your hard-earned glow.
Thanks for listening! Divas, you. betta. WERQ. Now, sashay away with your incredibly beautiful and healthy skin.
Dermatologist-in-training and all around cool girl blogger Aegean Chan is the savvy mind behind super-skincare blog Aegmora. Chan educates her readers with particularly informative posts that tie together her science background and her extensive experience with beauty products. We love that she demystifies everything from familiar active ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide to the newest trends like coconut oil. This week, Chan teaches us how to fight acne better, keep our skin hydrated, and protect it from the sun.
Retinoid sounds like a robot that could eventually take over the human race. But in reality, it’s actually a little known and much misunderstood cornerstone of your skin care regimen. This agent, a derivative of the vitamin A molecule, is the only tried and true, clinically proven way to improve signs of skin aging, treat acne, shrink pores and generally give you a kickass glow. This veritable skin superhero has been around for over 80 years, but its use is still shrouded in myth and fear because of its tendency to cause unsightly dryness and redness if used incorrectly.
(As featured today on Birchbox’s fabulous blog. !!!.)
Moist. When it stands alone, that word makes many a man, woman, and child squirm. However, it is what makes this cake melt in your mouth and your baby soft skin divine to the touch. So what exactly makes your skin so silky soft and what does it need to stay that way?
Fundamentally, the little molecule that could, H2O, is the key ingredient to anything becoming moist, soft, and pliable. Our skin needs water to function, proliferate, and regenerate properly. But we all know how transient and fickle water can be, with that pesky phenomenon, evaporation. In drier environments i.e. Vegas in July, our skin dries out and flakes off in response to the reduced water content in the air around us. The genius engineer of our bodies, however, anticipated this and embedded layers of lipid molecules (cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids) between our surface skin cells to help trap that water in, retaining that precious moisture. Voila! Water + lipids = soft, plump, beautiful skin.
A simple way to achieve this optimum moisture state is to pat dry after the shower, still keeping your skin slightly wet, and then applying a thin layer of Vaseline to literally trap those water molecules in the skin. But this is a little crude for your delicate face. After personally wading through the swampy mires of the thousands upon thousands of facial creams and moisturizers, I’ve found a few gems.
A clean, drugstore moisturizer that does the trick beautifully is CeraVe, which contains ceramides, thus replenishing the natural lipids of your skin. This allows your skin to better trap in that much needed water. If you want to get a little fancier, which I know you divas are prone to do, please explore and love and embrace Kiehl’s, as I did. Their Ultrafacial line saved my dry, flaky face and restored it to glory, after many a trial and error with many high end creams. It was the only one out of many that kept my face moist and soft and flake-free for the entire day. Take this knowledge and may your face be always soft as a the bottom of a new born babe!
(As featured today on Birchbox’s fabulous blog. !!!.)
Many do not realize that cleansing is a delicate balancing act, yet also the foundation of great skin. Your skin, although tough enough to withstand blistering heat, pelting sleet, and withering looks from haters, is actually a microcosm of cells and structural elements that require a very specific environment to thrive. Just think of it as layers upon layers of the very finest cashmere that together form a protective barrier. It wouldn’t make sense to try to restore the beauty and softness of that cashmere with a rinse of pure acid and a few passes with a sand blaster, would it?
Although using the same reasoning to get your kitchen counter clean and your face clean is easy to do, they are both completely different endeavors. Using harsh cleansers (a la 409 or ProActiv) and exfoliants dries your skin out and disrupts the delicate, slightly acidic pH balance that allows your skin cells to function so well as a barrier. Large grainy exfoliants can actually cause tiny abrasions and cause more harm that good. Less is more!
A good cleanser contains a mild cleansing agent, called syndet, that effectively remove dirt and oil from your face without disturbing the zen and lower pH of your skin. Dove was the first product to contain this, making it great for sensitive skin, and is present in many gentle cleansers, including my personal favorite, Boscia Purifying Cleanser. I swear, using it will momentarily teleport you to washing your face in a refreshing Swiss mountain stream.
Non-foaming cleansers, like Cetaphil, are great for the even more sensitive, poetic, skin types, especially those with eczema or psoriasis. They do not foam very much, but can remove that grime without too much irritation.
Remember, this is all a balancing act. I know I need a little fire power to squash those occasional blemishes. A regimen using a face wash containing benzoyl peroxide, an anti-bacterial agent, in the evenings, and then in the AM, giving my face the gentle treatment puts my skin in a very happy place. Everyone is different though, so play around, and you will find that sweet spot, achieving that glow and incredible lightness of being fabulous.
Aegean Chan: soon-to-be dermatologist, blogger, and all-around cool girl. Photo: Refinery29 and Aegmora.
Aegean Chan is a powerhouse—not only is she a dermatologist-in-training (with a history of humanitarian work), she’s behind one of our must-read blogs and was selected by Refinery 29 as one of the 30 under 30 - Rising Stars in NY this June. Others on the list include totally famous people Lauren Bush Lauren, Solange Knowles and Lily Kwong. Her blog, aegmora.com is full of her cheeky and well-informed take on beauty topics like the recent post “Why So Hyphy About Eye Cream” and her ‘Treat yo self’ columns. Lucky for us she’ll be guest blogging right here September 10th-14th. Read on for her summer beauty routine and best summer beauty find.
Treat yo self… to divalicious Tatcha Aburatorigami gold leaf blotting papers. Lord knows we all need something to take the shine away and although I prefer toilet paper (readily available, absorbent, and economical), we all need a little something to remind us of the goddess inside on these sticky summer days.
I bet a kitty fist bump is WAY cuter than the angry red bumps in your armpits. With the glorious summer heat, I have gotten many a cry for help for these pesky things that pop up after shaving and that keep your arms glued to your sides, even while jammin’ at a summer concert.
Another name for this unsightly phenomenon is underarm folliculitis. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body with hair and is a local infection of the hair follicle, due to bacteria and blockage and damage of the follicle from shaving and ingrown hairs. The moist, schweaty environment in your pits can also cause occlusion and irritation of your follicles, making them red, angry, and bumpy, and sometimes even pus-filled.
All in all, it’s an unpleasant side effect of the summer. Now you know its name, how do you fight it? Start with a simple warm compress and a gentle massaging motion after showers, to open up those blocked pores. This is sometimes all your tempermental armpit follicles need to chill out. If your pits are still acting up, The Cool Fix is a great product that contains salicylic acid and glycolic acid, both useful in emptying out those pores, as well as some soothing agents. As always, if it’s very severe, it’s best to get the opinion of a dermatologist, they have other, bigger guns in their bag of tricks.
Get those underarms under control and finish out this summer wearing tube tops and halters without shame! WERQ.
Have you heard the news? There’s a hundred uses for coconut oil, all of which end up making you younger, richer, and more good-looking. I never buy into hype, but after the millionth time someone told me I should be using the stuff and finding myself nearly buying a jar from Trader Joe’s, I figured I should launch a coco-vestigation of my own.
The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidizing mojo of coconut oil is purported to cure dry skin, acned skin, rough skin, dry hair, frizzy hair, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis and fungal-ed toenail. Although I completely agree that its emollient nature will definitely help those dry hair and nail issues, is it really cure for the more severe skin ailments? In my digging, I found that a component of coconut oil, lauric acid, has been seen in the lab to be effective in killing the bacteria guilty of causing nasty blemishes. However, the pure oil form has not been tested on human skin, so it’s questionable whether or not slopping the stuff on your zits will actually work. I say stick to the proven guns…
But that’s not all! Another study showed that virgin coconut oil is actually effective in killing staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria known to trigger flares of eczema. I was actually surprised at these findings and with all the coco-buzz, I guarantee there is more research to come. All in all, I think coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer that could be beneficial to all my eczema sufferers out there.. Make it a coco-spa day: slap it on after your shower while enjoying a nice, cold pina colada.
I still can’t help thinking that this coco-oil hype is just a way to get rid of all the coconut by-product of coconut water production.. a la Proctor and Gamble’s invention and PR blitz of Crisco, made from cottonseed oil for candle making rendered useless by the invention of electricity. Odd tangent, I know, but nonetheless, fascinating!
Treat yo self… To Melvita Rose Floral Water, $22. When I found this in my Birchbox, I thought ‘why would I need old lady spritzer?’ Oh boy, was I mistaken.. It’s AMAZINGLY refreshing after a 14 hour shift in the hospital. After a mist temples and neck, I felt like a new woman. A must for my jet-setting, bossy divas!
Hi! What are some safe acne/spot treatments for pregnancy?
Thanks for the message! I think anything over the counter is safe if you’re preggers. You’re using such minimal amounts on the skin than it’s insignificant what is actually being absorbed into the blood stream. The only thing I would avoid is anything containing retinols, although only very large doses can lead to birth defects.
Clean and clear spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide is pretty good. Plain white toothpaste works to dry out pesky pimples too. I would also recommend getting squalene to help heal and make concealing easy peasy. Ultimately, you have to get ahead of the acne by using a benzoyl peroxide face wash daily.
Be forewarned, with the hormone changes of pregnancy, acne can flare up and it could be helpful to get a dermatologist on board if it gets too severe.
Although this blanket statement by Coco Chanel may not necessarily hold true, I think the mechanics of a good perfume is good know for a discerning lady such as yourself. Don’t you hate it when you spend a small fortune on a bottle of sweet elixir that evaporates as soon as it dries on your skin? How are you supposed to attract that special someone without enhanced pheremones?
Perfume is essentially the mix of water, ethanol, and a concentrated aromatic compound. I never put much thought into this, but the fancy french names of colognes actually indicate where they fall on the perfume concentration scale.
-Eau de Parfum= 10-20%. Described somewhere as “olfactory shoulder pads,” this class usually embodies the strongest, most concentrated scents. Think CoCo by Chanel.
-Eau de toilette= 5-15% (usually around 10%). The less aggressive, poorman’s daytime scent for all occasions, coming from the French phrase “faire sa toilette,” describing the ritual of getting dressed.
-Eau de Cologne= 3-8%. A light, citrus perfume without a base scent. Sold to the masses at apothecaries and now in the Duane Reade, to get more bang for the buck.
The higher the concentration, the “stickier” the scent is and the longer it will last on your skin. The lower the concentration, the more water and ethanol there is and POOF, just in like that, your sexy scent is gone for the day.
My interest in fragrance was piqued after a visit to Atelier Cologne, a fragrance boutique in Nolita NYC, where I was treated to a 45 minute crash course in the art of scent. After years of buying the hottest Marc Jacobs scent (usually around 10-12%) and ending up smelling like myself (ew) after a few short hours, I discovered this brilliant combination of a light, citrus scent in the concentration of eau de parfum, at close to 20%. It sticks like nothing I’ve ever tried and because of that, the scent evolves and changes to the personal chemistry of the wearer. After 14 hours of wear, I still can smell it on myself. You can’t find that kind of fragrance satisfaction just anywhere. My scent, Oolong Infini, is described as “cool gin and citrus opening followed by an afternoon tea heart of smoky oolong before retiring to the wood paneled drawing room for a whiff of tobacco.” Doesn’t get sexier than that.
Another little nugget I got from that fateful day was how to apply perfume. NEVER RUB. It crushes the fragrance molecules, altering the anatomy of the scent. Spray on pulse points (wrists, base of the throat, behind ear lobes, inner elbows, behind knees), where the radiating heat warms the scent, making it stick, all the while emanating the scent into your space.
This is my homage to fragrance, the finishing touch of any diva beauty routine. Spend a little time searching for your signature scent, it’s an investment worth making. You gotta work to WERQ.
A selection of portraits from the Humanae project. (Photo: Styleite.com)
We eagerly wait for Pantone’s color forecasts every year to start raving about the “It” colors of the season (here’s to you, Tangerine Tango). The company’s bread-and-butter, however, is their famed universal color matching system. Now Brazilian-born artist Angelica Dass is using the Pantone shading system in a whole new way with the Humanae project. Dass, who studied fashion design in Rio de Janeiro before turning to photography, is setting out to “record and catalog all possible human skin tones,” as her website explains.
Treat yo self… to a baby Vaseline, $1.39. Also known as Vaseline Lip Therapy, it’s pretty much an adorable, purse friendly jar of cure-all petroleum jelly. Although I don’t love it for the lips, it’s perfect for those random dry, itchy, flaky rashes that are just crying out for a little hydration and protection from the elements. I never leave home without it and neither does Baby Louis Vuitton Don.
The verdict on squalene is out! After many weeks of careful deliberation and experimentation, I have determined that squalene is as useful, versatile and vital to your medicine cabinet as I have heard it is.
I tried it on a variety of zits, dried out zits, scabs, and dry spots and it instantly smoothed them out, as well as accelerated their healing. Maybe it was because they were smoother and less gross, thus discouraged picking? Regardless, I can’t live without it now and give my full endorsement for its purchase and integration into your beauty routine. You can get it here.
Sometimes toning is undeniably a good thing (check out those arms!). But when it comes to your face, the use and necessity of toner seems like a heavily marketed ploy by the beauty and/or cotton ball industry. Is that middle step in those 3-step magical skin perfecting sets really all it’s cracked up to be? Does our skin really need all that toning, prepping, smoothing, and pH correcting before the application of moisturizer?
I did a little Sherlock Holmes-ing and… gasp! you don’t actually need a toner in your daily regimen to have a glowing complexion. Looking back at the history of toner, or astringent as it was called back in the day, it was used to rid the skin of the residue that old facial cleansers were apt to leave behind. Now in these modern times of sliced bread and the internets, cleansers are more elegant, well mannered and clean up after themselves. That extra step is really only necessary if you have extremely oily skin and need a little help getting off heavy make-up. According to many a dermatologist and skincare guru here, it’s all baloney and they’re not buying it.
So if you have beauty FOMO and feel guilty every time you see a bottle of toner (like me), you can rest easy. However, if you love the touch and feel of that dampened cotton ball on your face, make sure you are using one that is alcohol-free and always follow up with a good moisturizer. You want to make sure you are not drying out your face too much, it can cause breakouts. A toner that my beautiful and savvy friend recommends is the Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Tonic, $28. She loves the feel of it and I definitely noticed an extra bit of glow on her. Plus, it doesn’t contain any alcohol or witch hazel!
Another beauty myth busted.. if you have any burning questions, holla back, please.
Treat yo self… With Bisous de Provence Lavender triple milled soap from Trader Joe’s, $3.50. Ain’t nothing better than a shower filled with the luxurious scent of lavender at the end of a long day. This bar is filled with lavender husk to slough off that dead skin, leaving you baby soft and smelling like a field of wild flowers. It’s really the little things in life that bring the most joy.
So grateful to be recognized in Refinery 29’s rockstar line-up of 30 under 30!! Had a grand ‘ol time celebrating on the rooftop of the James Hotel with both old and new friends. Thank you all for reading! Will keep the lil nuggets of beauty do’s, don’ts, shams, and pearls a-coming.. xo
Treat yo self… to the industry’s best multipurpose highlighter, Nars Copacabana stick, $39. A make up artist told me this was the one item she could not live without.. it works on every skin tone and gives that healthy glow without that body glitter effect. Dab it on the brow bone, bridge of the nose, cheekbones, philtrum of the lip, and the prominence of the chin. You will enhance your silhouette while raising eyebrows.. WERQ.
Do you ever find yourself praying like a desert nomad for your eczema to go away? It’s a chronic, nagging disease that plagues many people I know and one friend even resorted to using lard to find some relief (you know who you are). Although a good dermatologist is key to battling this malady, a basic understanding of what the heck is going on will help you care for and prevent it.
Itchiness, dryness, rashes are the hallmark of eczema. In addition to genetics, it has been found that there is structural dysfunction of the skin that decreases its ability to hold onto moisture and fulfill its main function of creating a barrier. This poor barrier exposes the insides of the body to dust mites and other allergens that can cause the immune system to activate, leading to inflammation and that darn itch.
So what this means for you is that you need to give your skin a helping hand by restoring the barrier. One great way to do that is after your luxurious bath, pat yourself almost dry, and put vaseline or a thick cream, such as Cerave or Aquaphor, on your problem spots to trap water in your skin. Mere lotion does not adequately trap in the moisture that your skin so badly needs. Even after the rash is resolved and your skin is baby smooth again, you can prevent recurrences by continuing this soak and seal regimen.
Also, remember that the more you scratch, the more you will itch! I see you.. STOP SCRATCHING! An antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Allegra, should help you with that nuisance.
This is just a basic beginners primer on a bottomless topic. It definitely does not hurt to have a dermatologist on board with you on your journey to bee-oo-tee-ful, rash-less, healthy skin.
Treat yo self… to Lush’s Godiva solid shampoo bar, $10.95. It smells deee-vine, leaves your hair soft and glossy, and great for travel. If you want to double treat yo self, finish off your pampering with a cup of intoxicatingly fragrant jasmine tea.
"After the age of 26, every woman should be using an eye cream." I hear this guilt trip every few months and I’ve always wondered why. Eye cream seems like extra expensive moisturizer that comes in a very teeny tiny jar and is just another unnecessary product to put on your face. So I did a little beauty myth-busting…
Eye creams are just elegant moisturizers, formulated to match the pH of your tears so it is less irritating. Some also contain products like fruit acids, retinol, and collagen to improve the appearance of those fine lines. However, the consensus of discerning experts, and my personal opinion, is that moisturizer is all you need in that area. There is no solid, or even semi-solid, proof that the eye area needs any special ingredients apart from those that you use on your face. Much of the fine lines and thinning that occur in the area around the eye as you age is more due to UV damage than neglecting to use eye cream.
For a little more anecdotal proof, I just had my skin scrutinized in a blacklight skin scanner and the skin around my eyes is perfectly moist and surprisingly un-sun-damaged.
So pretty much, eye cream is to the beauty industry as Valentine’s day is to Hallmark. A good moisturizer and sunscreen gently applied to the eye area should do the trick, much like a dozen red roses and a good bottle of wine. No need for balloons, bells, whistles or fuzzy handcuffs.
Treat yo self… to Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1, $7, in one of many delectable flavors (pear is my personal favorite). I am a lip balm junkie and have tried everything (Chapstick, Soft Lips, Burt’s Bees, Rosebud Salve, etc etc) and I am hooked on Kiehl’s lip balm like a baby beauty queen is to Go Go juice.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
This quote from W.B. Yeats so appropriately describes a new magical substance I just discovered that moisturizes and smooths over the nastiest blemishes, allowing you to cover them up for a flawless finish. While on the photo shoot for Refinery29’s 30 under 30 (!!!), the very talented make up artist let me in on her little secret for making people look awesome despite nature’s little f-you’s on your face.
Squalene oil. A component from the sebaceous glands (ie the machinery inside your pores) and a natural extract from shark liver, this elixir is said to smooth over any dried out, scabby intruder of your perfect complexion. It is absorbed quickly, leaving no residue, while retaining moisture and an even surface for concealer application. I’ve even read that it is a great primer as well.
Although a scientific explanation seems to be lacking and I personally have not had the opportunity to try this, I couldn’t wait to share this beauty pearl. Reading gushing testimonials on the internets and the word from an acne-camouflaging expert is enough evidence for me to give this a whirl and to encourage you to do the same. $10 a pop from here won’t break the bank and just might make your day a little better and your smile a little brighter.
(I just ordered mine, so will keep you posted on my (hopefully) life-changing experience.)
Treat yo-self and protect yo gorgeous face with Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+. Light as air, doesn’t clog your pores, and won’t leave your face looking like someone just fried bacon on it. Mix it with your favorite make-up! You can be both sun smart AND fabulous, just like vintage Barbie.
A friend who had seen the recent documentary on the life of Bob Marley (quite aptly, on April 20th) brought to my attention that this icon died at the age of 36 from the metastatic spread of a melanoma under his toenail. This is tragic and curious for several reasons: 1) Most people assume he died from an overdose of some variety and 2) Dark skinned people can get melanomas?
Yup. They can. Actually, the death rate from melanoma is actually higher in darker skinned people, thought to be due to the occurrence of more aggressive melanoma and/or later detection of the melanoma. So the short of it is that melanoma is freaking scary. BUT the long of it is that more often than not, the weird thing that shows up on your skin is NOT melanoma.
Here’s a quickie primer on spotting melanomas. Moles that are Asymmetric, have irregular Borders, Colorchanges/multiple colors, aDiameter larger than a pencil eraser or rapid growth should be checked out by your friendly neighborhood dermatologist. Know your ABCDs! If you catch it early, there’s a better chance of a complete cure. Sun exposure, especially blistering sunburns, is a known risk factor for melanoma, so protect yo-self from the sun with hats, sunscreen (UVA+UVB), a giant waffle, or very tall bodyguard to block the sun wherever you go. For more info, go here.
In the words of a musical visionary: don’t worry, ‘bout a thing.. cause every little thing, gonna be alright.
Been in Haiti for the last 8 days (thus explaining the long hiatus), working with Healing Haiti. It was an amazing experience. Despite being in the midst of such need, the beaming smiles and kisses of the beautiful children will stay with me, motivating me to work and contribute to building Haiti back better.
But, of course, while I was there, I interviewed a few of the beautiful Haitian women I met for their beautification secrets. All of them had glowing, flawless skin, so I assumed there must be some special coconut oil, masks of sugar cane extract, or voodoo magic that they used. Nope. Just water, humidity, and the blazing Haitian sun.
One interesting thing I kept hearing about was whitening cream that certain “Bobbi Star” girls use to lighten their skin. I did some field research at the local market and found three shelves filled with this cream, dominating the skincare aisle. With a concentration of one percent alpha hydroxy acids, it mainly works to remove dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, where some pigment is contained. It tickles the brain to ponder that their skin whitening obsession is their version of tanning guidettes here in the US. I even found an satirical article, reporting a donation of 50,000 bottles of whitening cream to Haiti for earthquake relief, inciting real internet outrage (too soon, people).
While attempting to fix my farmer’s tan with some G&G whitening cream, I encourage you all to step out of your comfort zone to help our brothers and sisters in need.